Democrats and their allies in the press never really abandoned their Russian conspiracy-mongering. They merely set it aside momentarily to pursue other interests.
White House officials allegedly briefed President Trump recently on a “Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops,” according to the New York Times. The scandal is not so much the reported Russian scheme, but that the president apparently did nothing about it even after he was briefed on the matter.
With the re-emergence of a news story involving the Russians, Trump, and an alleged abdication of presidential duties, Democrats and their allies in the news media are again promoting a variety of conspiracy theories alleging Moscow secretly controls the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, claimed this weekend that the Russians almost certainly have dirt on the president, which they use to compel him to serve their interests.
“This is as bad as it gets, yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score. Denies being briefed,” she told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. “Whether he is or not, his administration knows and our allies, some of our allies who work with us in Afghanistan have been briefed and accept this report. Just as I have said to the president, with him all roads lead to Putin.”
She added, “I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally, financially, or whatever it is. But he wants to ignore it.…Despite his intervention into our election which is well documented by our intelligence community and despite now possibly this allegation, which we should have been briefed on.”
Stephanopoulos pressed the speaker to clarify what she means when she says the Russians “have something on him.”
“How else would you explain his refusal to even — to ignore again and again the intelligence that puts right at the Russian doorstep the involvement into our elections for example,” Pelosi said.
The late Art Bell has nothing on the Speaker of the House.
Pelosi added, “Now he’s saying this is fake news. Why would he say that? Why wouldn’t he say, let’s look into it and see what this is? […] Something is wrong with this picture.”
Meanwhile, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed, without any sort of evidence, that Moscow physically changed voter tallies in 2016 to steal the presidential election for Trump.
“I think one reason the elections weren’t what they should have been was because the Russians manipulated the votes. It’s that simple,” Reid told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t take a math expert to understand that by changing a few votes, the outcome will be different. So, I have no doubt.”
There is not a shred of evidence to back up this allegation. In fact, a Senate Intelligence Committee determined specifically there was “no evidence of changed votes or manipulated vote tallies” in its investigation of Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
That Reid and Pelosi should thus descend into fever-swamps is perhaps not a surprise. But the disappointing thing is that there has been virtually no pushback from the press against their kooky conspiracy theories.
In fact, following news of the Russian bounty scheme, many journalists have eagerly picked up where they left off in 2019 after Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported that his investigation had failed to “establish that the members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, for example, asked this weekend during an interview with former national security adviser John Bolton of the president’s reported inaction on Russia, “Do you think that part of the — the President is afraid to make Putin mad because maybe Putin did help him win the election and he doesn’t want to make him mad for 2020?”
At New York magazine, commentator Jonathan Chait, who is responsible for a July 2018 article titled “What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?”, declared that Trump’s reported non-response to the Russia briefings “is damning.”
“Why does the ‘America First’ president keep putting Russia first?” read the headline to an opinion article authored by the Washington Post’s Max Boot.
The really amusing thing is that there is no daylight between these wacky commentaries and the public remarks of Democratic officials, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said in 2018 that “A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: what could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States?”
He added, “Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”
The Russian collusion conspiracy theory never really went away. It just took a little nap.